Hello Fellow Adventurer!
Utah's Adventure Family is back! This time we're sharing about one of our favorite National Parks. Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming just north of Jackson. The mountains here are rugged and breathtaking. The lakes are crystal clear and beautiful. Best of all, there is wildlife around every corner!
The park has many fun activities for families. Whether you're a first time visitor or a seasoned veteran, we think we can help you with a few of our top tips for having a great time visiting the Grand Tetons.
Ride the ferry across Jenny Lake
Our kids love when we ride the boat across the lake. The ride is only about 15 minutes, but it's a trip on a boat which is definitely exciting. The ferry takes you across the lake where you can climb out and take a quick hike to Hidden Falls, or you can stay on the ferry and sail back to the dock by the Visitor Center. The hike to Hidden Falls is fairly simple and is 1.0 mile roundtrip. The waterfall is always beautiful.
Riding the ferry does require tickets that you can purchase at the dock. It runs every 15 minutes, but it is only active from about mid-May through September. This is the perfect adventure for all abilities!
Take a Hike
There are dozens of beautiful hikes in Grand Teton National Park, and many of them are just right for families. Our favorite time to visit is early summer because there are wildflowers all along the trail. The clear air, calm water, and peaceful pines give you a sense of what nature is all about. Best of all, every hike seems to offer beautiful views of the towering Tetons.
Here are 3 of our favorite family friendly hikes. For more information on these hikes (and others), visit our post about Grand Teton Kid Hikes on Utah's Adventure Family.
- Lakeshore Trail: This trail is right behind the Colter Bay Visitor Center and is flat and easy. The entire hike walks next to the water which is fun for throwing rocks, and wading. This trail is 2.0 miles and perfect for anyone.
- Moose Ponds: This 2.5 mile RT hike walks along the edge of Jenny Lake until it branches off toward two ponds. We have spotted a moose every time we have hiked to the ponds. We cannot guarantee you will see a moose, but we think there is a good chance.
- Leigh Lake: We love this trail because it follows the edge of String Lake and offers great views of the Tetons as you hike. When you arrive at Leigh Lake, the trail continues to follow along the shore, but we usually turn around to keep the distance at 2.0 miles roundtrip.
Play in the water
There are many lakes in Grand Teton National Park, so grab your swimsuit and take a dip in the lake. Our favorite swimming spot is String Lake. Our boys throw rocks, swim, wade, and squeal on the rocky beach. This is their favorite activity in the park.
We also put our feet in the water when hiking the Lakeshore Trail. There is a beach near the start of this trail and near the Colter Bay Visitor Center with picnic tables. The beaches in the park are mostly rocky, and the water is freezing even in July, so be prepared.
Lots of people kayak or paddle board along String Lake and Leigh Lake. Boats are seen in Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake. So there are spots to have fun in the water all over the park.
Enjoy a drive
When we get tired of traipsing the trails, we hop in the car and take a scenic drive. The Tetons have some great places for drives where you can see animals and also enjoy beautiful views. Every time we visit, we find another road to explore. These are the four scenic drives we do every time we visit Grand Teton National Park.
- Schwacher Road: This is a short drive, only 1.0 mile, but it is beautiful. The dirt road leads you down to the river where you can get out and walk on a nature trail for about 1/3 of a mile. Some of our best photos of the Tetons are from this spot.
- Antelope Flat/Mormon Row: This road loops through the sagebrush, but we always see buffalo and pronghorn antelope on this loop. You can make a loop here, or drive Antelope Flat and turn around and come back. These roads are near Moose.
- Signal Peak: This road climbs up to the top of Signal Peak and we usually see deer along this road. The views over the valley and of the mountains are worth the drive. There are two overlooks with parking for you to take photos. This road is located near Jackson Lake.
- Oxbow Bend Dirt Road: Near Jackson Lake is a spot called Oxbow Bend. There are a few turnouts along the main road where you can watch waterfowl, elk, and other animals at the water. We love to drive the dirt road right next to this area. It's only 1.0 mile, but it leads to a little parking area where you can get out and enjoy the serene beauty. We have seen bald eagles, otters, and many ducks hanging out at this location. It can be very wet in the spring!
Look for animals
We've seen it all in Grand Teton National Park: beaver, bison, grizzly bears, moose, foxes, coyotes, skunks, marmots, and elk, along with many others. Many animals can be seen right on the road. Others are best viewed along the trail. Either way, nothing is more exciting to the kids than spotting an animal in its natural habitat.
Some of our tips for spotting wildlife in Grand Teton are:
- Go early. Not all of our animal sightings happen in the morning, but you have a better chance of seeing animals if you are up early before it's hot. The evenings are a good time to look, too.
- Ask the Ranger. We always ask the ranger what animals have been spotted recently and where. Animals are generally in the same area, so it gives us a guide of where we want to spend time watching for bears or moose
- Keep a safe distance. Everyone is excited to see wildlife, but remember that these animals are wild. So stay a safe distance away from the animals and respect their space.
We always recommend participating in the Junior Ranger program when visiting a National Park. Make sure to stop by a Visitor’s Center to pick up your booklet. Once the booklet is complete, you earn a badge or patch.
As long as you are in the area, we recommend visiting Yellowstone National Park, too. It Is only an hour away and is our favorite place to visit. Check out our post with tips for visiting Yellowtone National Park.
Good to Know
Where: Grand Teton National Park is located in Wyoming. There are 3 main areas of Grand Teton National Park: Moose, Jenny Lake, and Colter Bay.
When: Year-round. The park is open all year, but many roads are closed in the winter. Most of the Visitor Centers are open June through September
How Much: $30 per vehicle for 7 days. Check out Allison's post about how to save on entrance fees to the National Parks.
Amenities: visitor centers, gift shop, bathrooms, picnic areas, camping, hotels, cabins, restaurants
Close By: If you visit Grand Teton National park, consider spending some time in Yellowstone National Park, too. It’s only about 30 miles between parks.